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Fantasy Baseball Profile: Derek Jeter

Over the weekend, Gawker announced that Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter was going to be named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year. On Monday, SI confirmed that Jeter is the winner of the award. He’s the first Yankee to ever win the award.

Jeter is one of those players whose name recognition typically doesn’t translate to fantasy baseball success. In fact, he may be the most notable MLB player to not consistently boast formidable fantasy numbers. This past March, Derek Jeter was drafted in a 12-team mixed league that I have hosted for the last five years at no. 17 overall. According to draft data from ESPN, Jeter’s average ’09 draft position was no. 54, putting him in 5th round of almost any mixed league, depending on size.

At the time, I blasted the owner who drafted Jeter that early. I jumped on the owner, saying that draft picks like Jeter at no. 17 are reasons why no one should ever consult an experts draft when preparing for their own league. Fantasy owners who wear their fanhood to the draft can’t be accounted for when a group of experts sit down – simple as that.

Anyway, the owner who drafted Jeter must’ve know something I didn’t know back in March. According to Yahoo! 2009 end of season fantasy rankings, Jeter finished the season as the no. 16 overall player in all of fantasy baseball. He batted .334 with 18 homeruns, 66 RBI, 107 runs scored and 30 steals. Jeter’s 2009 numbers were a far cry from his 2008 numbers with the exception of his RBI total, which actually slightly decreased. During the season, he also became the Yankees all-time hits leader.

Derek Jeter always seems to be a tough player to evaluate for fantasy baseball because his statistics don’t typically match his name recognition. Heading into 2010, Jeter’s numbers shouldn’t change that much… but the run production and steal total might drop while his average dips back closer to .300.

Considering a decline in offensive production, what happens to Jeter’s fantasy value for 2010? Despite his top 20 overall rating in fantasy baseball, his lack of power and lack of stolen bases lead me to believe he can be no better than the fourth or fifth best fantasy shortstop. Hanley Ramirez remains the top shortstop going into 2010, followed by Jimmy Rollins and Jose Reyes. Jeter and Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki fall right behind the top 3.

When the time comes that you’re drafting and choosing between Tulowitzki and Jeter for your shortstop spot, keep our Jeter analysis in mind.  Tulowitzki has the advantage in terms of power numbers, while Jeter will outhit Tulowitzki by a considerable margin, steal more bases, and have more chances to score runs.

Do you think Jeter can maintain his great production from 2009 in 2010? Where would you rank Jeter in terms of other fantasy baseball shortstops? Leave us a comment below.

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